December 7, 2016
1 Samuel 11
Shawn Bumpers / General
1 Samuel / Saul (king); Samuel; Israel (United Kingdom); Jabesh-gilead; Battle; Compromise; Salvation / 1 Samuel 11:1–15
Saul defeats the Amonnites
In our last chapter, Saul was announced by Samuel as the first king of Israel.
In chapter 10, Samuel anointed Saul with oil and announced that, “The LORD has anointed [him] commander of His inheritance.”
1 Samuel 10:1 NKJV
Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: “Is it not because the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance?
Saul was to act as steward.
Psalm 24:1 NKJV
The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
The world and all that is in it belongs to God.
Genesis 1:28 NKJV
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
By saying, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it,” and “Have dominion” over all living things, God told Adam and Eve, and each successive generation to put His handiwork to use and also care for it.
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church defines Stewardship as, “The management of property by a servant on behalf of its owner.”
The Hebrew word for steward is אֲשֶׁר Aser (ah-shayr) – meaning, “One appointed to be attentive to, show care toward, and guard something.”
I mentioned Adam and Eve acting as stewards.
• In addition, Joseph was a steward in Potiphar’s household, and later over Egypt.
• Daniel was administrator in Babylon.
• The priests in the Tabernacle and later the Temple were stewards.
• Today, Christians are stewards of the gospel, their giftings, their bodies, and even their material possessions.
Saul was anointed with a special stewardship over God’s special people, Israel … and as such, he was called to be attentive to, show care toward, and guard Israel, God’s special inheritance.
Paul’s public coronation took place also in chapter 10.
It wasn’t quite the auspicious start that perhaps had been expected.
So more inquiry was made of the Lord and Saul was found hiding among the “equipment.”
1 Samuel 10:24 NKJV
And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people?”
So all the people shouted and said, “Long live the king!”
But there were also those who, “Despised Saul” according to verse 27 of Chapter 10.
Later, some of his associates will desire for Saul to kill those Israelites who had opposed him, but Saul shows humility and restraint by giving the glory to the Lord and refusing to take vengeance.
Keep in mind that this was at the beginning of the kingdom when everything was new.
Samuel was still the spiritual ruler of the land, and he and Saul were waiting for God’s leading concerning the future of the nation.
But Israel was still a loosely knit group of tribes … not a strong, unified national force.
Saul’s first opportunity to establish Israel as a united force came when Nahash, the Ammonite king, threatened the nation.
A national victory against a hostile army would put Saul before the people and established his authority.
Israel’s victory in chapter 11 will be the occasion for a renewal of the kingdom and a rededication of the nation.
In chapter 12, Samuel will review his own ministry and remind the people that he had been faithful to them and to the Lord.
One of the reasons that Israel asked for a king was so that the nation could unite behind one leader.
They hoped that this would give them better opportunity to face their enemies.
After all, they had had Moses who led the nations, and then Joshua who led them against foreign forces to take the land of Canaan.
And after that there was a secession of judges who led Israel into battle against enemy armies.
Now, I should pause here a moment and mention Abimelech, the son of Gideon.
But Abimelech, the son of Gideon and a female slave, was paid 70 pieces of silver from the temple of the god Baal, to betray his brethren.
Abimelech was then proclaimed king by the people of the city of Shechem.
In fact, Judges 9:22 says, “Abimelech had reigned over Israel three years” until a woman dropped a millstone on his head and he had to beg a young man to finish him off.
According to Deuteronomy 17:14-15, God had to select the king, and the king could not be a stranger or foreigner.
So the answer is “no.”
• God had not appointed Moses king, or Joshua king, nor any of the Judges (or offspring).
• God had not appointed Samuel as king, either.
But back in chapter 8, Israel demanded a human king like the other nations had.
1 Samuel 8:5 NKJV
and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
And so the LORD consented and He gave them a king who looked like one might imagine a king should look.
He was easy to admire … they could point at him and say, “That’s my king.”
1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV
Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
In regards to Israel, they were more interested in human trappings … what looked and seemed good to them.
But they would not trust the LORD who, throughout the history of Israel had proven Himself strong on their behalf.
But God demonstrates His graciousness in that He now gives Saul the opportunity to prove himself and consolidate his authority as king.
Can you guess who the Ammonites were?
Well, they were located on the East bank of the Jordan River in modern day Jordan.
The Ammonites were descendants of Lot.
They are probably coming against Israel to recover their great loss at the hands of Jephthah back in Judges 11
We are introduced to Nahash, an Ammonite king here.
His name means “snake” and it’s the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 3 referring to the serpent in the garden.
Perhaps it has a dual purpose here in that he was acting as a serpent coming up against God’s people.
It was the pressure of the Ammonites coming against them that was at least a part of Israel’s desire for a king to solidify the kingdom against outside threats.
Why the gouging out of the right eye?
If Nahash could pull this off, he could subdue the city, takes it’s wealth, and enslave the people without having to risk a single Ammonite life.
But consider what inspired Nahash to make this offer.
It was the cities own offer of, “Make a covenant with us, and we will serve you.”
At the same time, where was their trust in God?
Remember that Nahash means snake?
Now the elders of the city show some wisdom.
They asked for a delay … hoping to find someone who could rescue them.
So, the people of Jabesh-Gilead didn’t know if there would be anyone who could save them.
But they did know there was no hope in and of themselves, that they had to have a savior.
The people of Jabesh-Gilead didn’t know of anyone who could save them.
1 John 4:14 NKJV
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.
Now, consider that Nahash not only had to agree to give them time to decide on his offer, but to allow the Israelites to send out messengers.
Why did he allow this?
• For one thing he was confident of Israel’s disunity.
• Second, by allowing the messengers to go through all Israel, he was increasing his reputation throughout the land.
It is strange that these messengers didn’t immediately go to inform Samuel and Saul.
Instead, they announced the news to the people.
Saul found out because he happened upon the scene.
Now, it’s interesting that Saul is out with the flocks and hears the uproar of crying when he comes in.
As soon as the king understood what was going on, the Holy Spirit came upon him and he was filled with righteous indignation.
Put simply, it was time for Saul to act, and God was with Saul.
What’s interesting to me is that when Saul is endowed with the Spirit here, his anger is greatly aroused.
We tend to think of anger being a sinful thing.
But the Bible is clear that not all anger is sinful.
Ephesians 4:26 NKJV
“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,
So, what does Saul do?
Well, of course he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces and sent the pieces throughout the land of Israel.
Saul wanted it clear that failure to step up and defend the cause of God at this time would be sin, and it would be punished as sin.
They sent the messengers back to Jabesh-Gilead to tell them help would be there before mid-morning.
The men of the city shrewdly reported to Nahash that they would be surrendering to them the next day.
This gave Nahash a false confidence and perhaps resulted in some lowering of defenses.
Looking at verse 11, Saul divided his army into 3 parts and attacked at night.
The morning watch was from 2am to 6am, so he caught the Ammonites by surprise and routed them.
Saul’s success was because he was empowered by the Spirit of God and open to being used by the LORD.
God used Saul’s natural gifts and gave him the wisdom and strength he needed.
It’s an important but perhaps subtle message to us … the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God can’t keep us and use us.
When Saul was chosen to be king, he was given authority from God and that authority was agreed to by the nation.
But when Saul won this victory, he gained stature before the people.
Contrasting this to the next king, David … Saul became more prideful with each victory, but David was humbled by his successes.
It seems like by now Saul would be the recognized king of Israel, having been anointed twice … once in a private ceremony and again before the leaders of the tribes.
But we humans like formality and so Samuel seized on this moment to call the nation together, give thanks to the LORD, and affirm the king and the kingdom under the king.
This is what we would call the formal coronation of Saul.
Earlier, at Saul’s being chosen by the Lord before the people at Mizpah, the people had accepted Saul.
But here they were confirming Saul as their king before the LORD.
Andrew Alexander Bonar said, “We must be as watchful after the victory as before the battle.